Qihoo’s search service launched another vertical search, shopping search, under its So.com. Apparently it partners with Alibaba’s shopping search, Etao.com as its address reads 360.etao.com. All the search results are the same with those shown on Etao.com, unlike other channels of So.com that partner with several content providers and prioritize their content in the search results. Actually it was founded in late 2012 that search results from Etao were shown on Qihoo’s mall.360.cn. Also, an independent search page for Taobao stores, tao.mall.360.cn, was released back then.
It’s obvious that Qihoo can receive CPS – or CPC – based commissions. Simply placing a Taobao search box and some ad links on Qihoo browsers’ start-up page, Qihoo saw 10%-15% of advertising revenues generated from those links in 2011 and 2012.
When discussing the Q1 2013 earnings, the management disclosed that 10% of the total traffic was from the search box on Qihoo’s browsers and the start-up page. They expected to increase search traffic and usage by leveraging its huge user pool.
The company began monetizing the search service from the beginning of this year through a self-developed system and partnership with Google. Currently they are trying to register more customers to bid up prices, according to Alex Xu, CFO of Qihoo, on the conference call. They are also building sales force — — Baidu has more than seven thousand employees there — and agency network to acquire customers.